My sister came out to visit us during spring break. As we were planning out our week we knew we wanted to hit up the tulip festival in Mt. Vernon. We planned our visit for a Thursday. Mid-week is guaranteed to be less crowded than a weekday. We also chose Thursday because the weather was calling for rain. I figured the rain would keep the crowds down too. I was right on that one. There was a lovely group of adults in their 60’s we passed in the field, a woman who volunteered to take a photo of all of us, plus a dozen people at Roozengaard‘s garden and that’s about it. 90% of the time it was just us, with acres of tulips in the most brilliant reds, yellows, purples, and pinks all to ourselves. We carried umbrella’s – mostly to protect the camera. The rain didn’t stop the boys. They like the flowers, but the main draw for them is the mud. Jumping in the puddles. Unrestricted. Free to splash and run through them as much as they want. I pack a complete change of clothes and strip them before we get in the car to head home.
Moments like these, watching them explore and trudge through the puddles, brings so much joy to me. At one point, Gavin was dragging his feet through a puddle, head down, watching the murky water swirl around his boots. He didn’t notice the adults we passed, he didn’t look up at them at all. I watched with amusement as they marveled at Gavin and his behavior. As they got closer, the man complimented me on letting the boys play in the mud. He mentioned how happy it made him to see me letting them play in the mud. He said I was doing a good job as a parent. Receiving a compliment on your parenting style from a total stranger is such a blessing. It’s like the sky opened and it was a nod, that in this one small moment, I was doing the right thing. It’s so easy for me to question my decisions and worry about everything. But letting them play in the mud was a decision I made with no hesitation. There are so many parts of my childhood that my kids will never get to experience. Growing up my sisters and I were allowed to roam free around the neighborhood, playing and exploring without restriction. Times have changed. And since we don’t live on acres of land in the middle of nowhere with a large protective dog to accompany them – my kids don’t have a lot of free play time in the wild open nature. So I’ve made it my aim to create opportunities for them to explore and learn and see things. The puddles at the tulip festival are a small portion of that. I hope that when they look back on their childhood these are the moments that stand out to them. The freedom to play and explore and get dirty.
Tulip Festival, Roozengaarde, Mt Vernon, April 2014.